Wallace & Gromit and Peaky Blinders to Feature in Next Gen Entertainment

VR cinema

The UK Government is providing £4 million in backing for new projects by Oscar and BAFTA winning companies to add a VR dimension to their creative offerings. 

The UK Government is investing in the development of immersive story-telling to ensure that home-grown talent remains world-leading for the next generation, and that the UK creative industries remain at the forefront of cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality (VR) technologies,

The award winning creative teams behind Wallace & Gromit and Peaky Blinders, are joining new projects led by industry leaders in the games and immersive entertainment sectors to delve into the world of VR and to explore how it can be applied to enhance viewer experience.

The pair will form part of a consortia that includes developers Tiny Rebel Games; digital specialists Potato; creative agency Sugar Creative; and the University of South Wales. Together, they will build on successes of Academy Award-winning films including The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave by adding a VR element.

The group will receive a £4 million investment to develop new immersive storytelling experience based on their famous creations. Using VR, the users will be able to join their favourite characters on adventures, and be immersed in the storyline.

An additional project, led by London-based immersive VR studio, Maze Theory, will feature a new VR drama game based on BAFTA-award winning Peaky Blinders, which is due to launch in 2020. Using AI, the game characters will respond to the users’ gestures, movement, voice, sound and body language, making it a truly interactive experience.

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In 2017, the UK’s creative industries reached a combined value of more than £100 billion. To build on this success the Government plans to invest £33 million through its modern Industrial Strategy. This investment, it says, will help to ensure the UK’s immersive technology industry cements its place as a world-leader and will in the future create thousands of highly-skilled jobs.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Success stories like award-winning Wallace & Gromit and BAFTA-winning Peaky Blinders are part of the reason why our creative industries are truly world-leading – attracting audiences both here in the UK and internationally and helping create a sector already worth some £100 billion to our economy.

“It’s why through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing to build on this huge global demand for UK creative content and ensure we lead the world in the next generation of entertainment. This backing will also give our home-grown talent the opportunity to lead the way in creating and using virtual and augmented reality technologies, remain at the cutting edge and create thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”

Aardman, the team behind Wallace & Grommit, are behind one of the 21 projects benefiting from Government investment in the creative industries – receiving a share of £12 million of the £33 million Ministers have made available.

Other projects that the Government is investing in include:

  • Improving theatre experiences for a more diverse audience, including personalised sign-language displays for British Sign Language (BSL) users, translation captions for non-English speakers and audio descriptions for visually impaired people. The project led by the National Theatre will research the technical and production means to deliver these initiatives to improve accessibility.
  • Making it possible for people to meet their heroes, with personalised storytelling and conversation through virtual reality. Forever Holdings will bring together a research group to transform these immersive encounters, by improving filming techniques and boosting voice interaction.
  • Offering businesses immersive learning solutions for employees where they can use virtual and mixed reality headsets to learn at their own pace and repeat tasks as often as required. Holohub would make this platform available to businesses for them to distribute it to staff and track performance.

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Creative Industries Minister Margot James said: “The £150 million Creative Industries Sector Deal is helping to drive forward our modern Industrial Strategy and maintain the UK as a world leading destination for creative talent. Immersive technology is changing the way in which we consume entertainment, and the Audience of the Future programme will demonstrate how we can take people closer to the action than ever before.”

UKRI Challenge Director for Audience of the Future, Prof Andrew Chitty, said: “It’s fantastic that we complete our line-up of audience facing demonstrators with this hugely ambitious collaboration between Tiny Rebel Games, Potato, Sugar and the creators of Wallace and Gromit.

“Their aim to revolutionise Augmented Reality gaming along with the advances in AI, haptics, audience interaction and film production technologies from our other competition winners means the public will be able to try out some truly ground breaking experiences over the next 18 months.”

The announcement comes on World Intellectual Property Day, which celebrates IP rich industries in economies around the world.

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